BOSTON - Rich Peverley will always be the answer to the trivia question about which player replaced Mark Recchi on the line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand when the Bruins opened their defense of their Stanley Cup championship.
In a 4-1 victory over Tampa Bay at TD Garden Saturday night, he truly looked just like the future Hall of Fame forward by scoring two goals from right in front of the Lightning net.
"Well he's obviously a Hall of Famer for a reason. He did a great job over his career and I'm not trying to be him I'm just trying to play my game and use my speed," Peverley said after the Bruins' first win of the new season. "And hopefully I can get goals whatever which way they come."
Playing the second half of a back-to-back, the Lightning failed to build off their 5-1 victory at Carolina on Friday. Making his Lightning debut, goaltender Mathieu Garon made 38 saves to keep his team within striking distance until late the third period. The Bruins, who lost 2-1 to Philadelphia on Thursday night, outshot Tampa Bay 42-26 in the teams' first meeting since Boston beat Tampa Bay 1-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last May.
"We were in this game going into the third, but if it wasn't for our goaltender, it could've been a three-goal game at that point," said forward Martin St. Louis, whose 300th career goal was the only scoring for the Lightning. "They just kind of circled our players. We got outplayed, outpoised, outmuscled and outbattled. There wasn't much positive to take out of this game, besides the fact that our goalie gave us a chance going into the third period. …
"It's not good enough. I know it's a back-to-back, but we've got to be better than that."
Peverley scored his first goal of the night 2:04 into the second period. Marchand skated out front and wristed a shot that deflected off the left post to Peverley standing at the right post for the easy bat-in. Peverley also sealed the scoring 8:43 into the third period with a goal from almost the same spot. Bergeron spun a shot toward the front that was going wide, but Peverley stopped it and fired it past Garon.
With his speed, Peverley is clearly a different type of player than Recchi. However, he's proven to be a perfect fit for Bergeron and Marchand from the preseason into the regular season.
"I mean I feel we are creating a lot of chances off the rush and even in zone by our forecheck and by the way we keep moving our feet," Bergeron said. "I thought we had a lot of chances last game as well and we didn't finish, and tonight same thing and we found a way [to score]."
St. Louis' breakaway goal just 1:16 after Peverley's first goal tied the game and made his the 178th player in NHL history to reach 300 goals.
But the Bruins didn't let the game stay tied for long. After some hard work by Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille and Tyler Seguin to keep the puck in the Lightning zone, Adam McQuaid stepped up with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle that deflected off Paille on its way into the back of the net for a 2-1 Boston lead at 4:58 of the second.
Tim Thomas finished the night with 25 saves, even though he didn't face his first shot until the game was more than 10 minutes old. Thomas' best stop denied Lightning winger Teddy Purcell 1:44 into the third period.
"I don't know if it was a 3-on-2 or a 3-on-3 situation, I'm not sure, but the guy passed it through the slot and whoever was in the slot there did a good job of just barely tipping it over to Purcell," Thomas said. "So I was actually originally just on the first pass, and I had to scramble to get over to the second pass which is why I sort of made the save while I was falling down."
After their goaltender kept them in the lead, the Bruins answered with an insurance goal. David Krejci buried the puck with 3:07 elapsed in the third period after a rebound of a Milan Lucic shot eluded Tampa Bay center Nate Thompson in the slot.
"There are points in the game where momentum changes and we didn't change anything," Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "There is only one momentum and they seemed to be the ones who had it. They are the ones who shot the puck more than us. They were the ones creating chaos."
With Benoit Pouliot making his Bruins debut on the third line, Boston featured its projected lineup from the offseason for the first time in a game. There's no doubt that second line with Peverley wreaking havoc will be together for a little while longer.
"I think as long as we're getting chances we're going to be happy," Peverley said. "And if we continue to get chances we're going to win like tonight. We all did a good job of shooting the puck and getting second chances and that's how we scored the goals."